Whether it’s out on a biathlon course, or in everyday life, Vernon’s Emma Lunder doesn’t like to waste time.
If she isn’t training in biathlon, the 23-year-old is working to raise money for competitions. When she isn’t doing that, Lunder takes online courses through Athabasca University to chip away at a degree in Social Sciences.
Oh, and she has started learning how to crochet in her so-called spare time.
Even when she graduated from Vernon Secondary in 2009, Lunder didn’t dawdle. She bolted straight for Squamish to train fulltime with the B.C. High Performance Team.
“It was an eye-opening year, with harder training than I’d ever done,” said Lunder.
However, after the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the funding for the high performance team was cut, causing it to disband. Lunder’s only real option was to move to Canmore, Alta., home of the national team and pretty much every competitive club in Canada.
There, she trained with the Rocky Mountain Racers for three years, eventually gaining a berth on the national B-Team. However, she trains at the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre under national coach Richard Boruta.
Lunder first learned to shoot through Sea Cadets, which she participated in from 2004-08. She skied recreationally with her family since she was a six-year-old “flailing around on skis,” but was never competitive until she put the two together.
“I was drawn to the aspect of combining extreme physical and mental activities,” said Lunder. “I was definitely not a natural shot, and it’s something I still put a lot of extra emphasis on.
“As difficult as shooting has been for me, I love it. There’s something about skiing as hard as you can, and having to slow your heart rate enough to hit targets the size of a toonie from 50 metres away.”
Lunder added the extra attention to shooting is also a pragmatic choice: “You can only do so well with ski speed. It’s taken a while, but I’ve learned that no matter how fast you ski, if you’re constantly in the penalty loop, it’s a lot harder to be a medal contender.”
After three years of competing on the IBU Cup (Tier 2) circuit, Lunder competed in her first-ever World Cup race last season, in Slovenia, surpassing all expectations with a 30th-place finish.
She is hoping to battle her way back onto the World Cup scene this year. She has already competed in Obertilliach, Austria, and a few other potential season race venues include Germany, Estonia, Slovakia and Finland. The latter is a World Cup event, in early January.
If all goes well, she could end up competing in the world championships, in Kontiolahti, Finland, in February. All of this is a build-up for Lunder’s ultimate goal – the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Lunder has been supporting her biathlon adventures by working at Starbucks since 2010. Every international tour she goes on – usually two or three a year – is paid for out of her own pocket, and each one costs upwards of $4,000.
“Biathlon is an underfunded sport in Canada – the national team fee is $6,500, while in European countries, they are actually paid to race on their national teams,” she said.
“I’m extremely lucky to have supportive parents that assist me, but the costs add up quite quickly.”
To help fund her dream, Lunder and her boyfriend, Nathan Smith, a fellow national team member, have launched a Pursu.it campaign. Pursu.it is an online crowd-sourcing fundraiser for athletes.
“This type of fundraising is extremely important to us, as it allows us to work fewer hours, and train more,” she said.
The duo has also partnered with some local businesses in Canmore to provide “give-backs” for the donations it receives. To support Lunder and Smith, visit www.pursu.it/pursuit/campaign/80.